The number of coronavirus cases in Tuscaloosa County is on the rise and local healthcare officials believe the best way to curtail the surge in cases is through better following safety precautions.

“We need to do the hand washing; we need to do the social distancing. We need to be diligent about those things,” DCH Medical System Chief Operations Officer Paul Betz advised participants on a Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama conference call this morning. “But if there were one recommendation, one ask that I have for the people in our community to help keep us safe and manage and control the spread of this virus it is – wear a mask!”

Betz has witnessed the effectiveness of wearing a mask among the employee base and patients at the medical center. He touts the universal masking policy as the most definitive and effective thing that has been done to manage COVID-19 within the facility walls.

Betz’ counsel comes as DCH treats 85 patients for the virus with 25 in intensive care and 12 on ventilators. While the spike in number may largely result from a Northport nursing home, Metro Jail Prisoners and a mental health facility; observation shows maybe half of the people in public are wearing a mask.

“The situation is manageable but that could change rapidly if we do not continue to work together as a community,” Betz urges.

Wearing a mask, according to Betz, is an outward sign of an individual who wants to participate in the management and control of the coronavirus in the community. “It is also a way of showing compassion for those who are around you,” Betz added.

Betz points out you could be asymptomatic right now but have COVID-19 and not even know it, “Wearing a mask allows you to protect those around you by not spreading the virus.”


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